State authorities are requesting local coastal communities shut down its beach parking lots this holiday weekend as the county braces for an influx of visitors since it is the only Southern California jurisdiction without visitation restrictions.
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and Natural Resources sent a letter on Friday to San Diego, Imperial Beach, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside urging the cities to close its beach parking lots in order to keep residents safe from COVID-19.
4th of July During the Pandemic
What San Diego County is doing during the holiday.
“By keeping parking lots closed, we can help limit beach access in San Diego to San Diegans only, to protect the health of residents and reduce the high likelihood of disease transmission in surrounding San Diego restaurants, bars, and businesses,” Cal OES said in its letter.
Already California officials ordered all state beaches to shut down its parking lots for the holiday weekend. However, Cal OES stated that closing local beach parking lots could potentially discourage day-trips from individuals outside of the county.
According to the agency, local leaders and Cal OES have been in talks about beach parking lots during the holiday weekend for the past few days. Not following their guidelines could potentially put San Diego County at risk of being ineligible for part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's $2.5 billion relief fund to help local governments pay for services needed because of the pandemic.
Those funds include a clause that states they are "available for all counties in compliance with federal guidance and state health requirements on COVID-19 response."
On Thursday, the city of Oceanside said it would temporarily close its beach parking lots this weekend through 8 a.m. on July 6.
Carlsbad announced it would close its beach parking lots on Saturday in response to Cal OES' letter. The North County city said it would deploy Community Emergency Response Team volunteers, lifeguards and police officers to provide masks on its beach.
On Friday, San Diego County was added to the state’s County Monitoring watch list following a series of coronavirus outbreaks in the past week and a rollercoaster of confirmed positive cases.
“This is a critical moment in California’s battle against COVID-19, and Californians have stepped up to limit the spread of the virus,” the letter said. “Temporary beach parking lot closures in San Diego County will help to ensure continued progress on limiting spread of the virus, which will expedite our process to restore important activities within our economy and communities.”
Kris Michell, San Diego County Chief Operating Officer, sent out the following statement regarding Cal OES' letter:
“The City of San Diego is closely following County guidance and working with health officials to encourage adherence to public health regulations. The request to regional coastal cities to close beach parking lots on the Fourth of July came last night just a few hours before the start of the holiday, leaving little time to enact, enforce or notify the public. San Diego continues to require facial coverings and physical distancing at all locations, and this week voluntarily implemented restrictions on bars and restaurants to limit the spread of COVID-19. As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, we will continue to work with County and State health officials to protect public health and safety.”
It is unclear if the other cities that received the letter would comply with the agency’s request.